Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Multidimensional Poverty Index

I've been thinking about the different places faculty from our department will travel in the summer months: three countries in Europe, one in Africa and one in Latin America.   By sharing these experiences, ultimately our UNO students will benefit.

Kris & Beth traveled to Norway in the September 2010 observing schools and building relationships with faculty at the University of Adger.

Phil led a group of UNO students to Norway in May 2012 and then traveled to Finland and Lithuania in August.  Phil has established connections for future research and some of his colleagues from Lithuania will be visiting UNO in October.

Our Graduate Assistant Julie Grotelueschen returned to Kisumu Kenya in June 2012 as a surprise to her former students.  She spent a month just loving on the children of Kisumu.

Jonathan and I traveled to Nicaragua in June to work with deaf children at our deaf school project.  It was amazing to see the impact on the teachers and the students to see a successful, independent deaf adult.

Kris, Beth, Mitzi and I traveled to Nicaragua in July as part of another sister university relationship.  One part of the UNO internal "Faculty Research International" grant was to introduce new faculty members to an existing project in a different country. As in previous posts, there were many lessons learned by all
All of this diversity has made me very reflective about comparisons and expectations.  Entering into another culture can be exciting, overwhelming and very educational.   There are so many thoughts and feelings running through me right now.  :-)

It is impossible to capture the full experience in pictures and videos-- the smells, the stereo sound, the varying cultural nuances----  something I'd love to do as an anthropologist.

For a more "quantitative" comparison, the closest I have come to trying to understand the diversity is the Multidimensional Poverty Index.  There are issues with accurate databases and data collections as well as differing views on how to report the data. While not perfect, it does provide a window into the complexities of these cultures much less their education systems.

The following chart explains this the best and is from which is the United Nations Development Program.
The MPI identifies overlapping deprivations at the household level across the same three dimensions as the Human Development Index: living standards, health & education.
Looking at the variation in experiences this summer:

CountryMDI/HDI rankCategory of human developmentGross national income per capitaMeanyears of schoolingExpected years of schoolingAdult literacy rate (15 years older)% living below the nation’s poverty line% living on less than $1.25/day
Norway1Very High$47,55712.617.398.5~4.5NA
USA4/6Very high$43,01712.41693.9~15NA
Lithuania40Very high$16,23410.216.188.3~18NA

This specific  information might be great for contestants on Jeopardy but I've been more reflective on how we respond.  Education must be the foundation of any change we wish to see in the world and hopefully the SPED department at UNO will be part of that change.
(Julie Delkamiller)

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